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The Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies: contributing to regional security capacity-building.


In 2006, the Deputy Commander of U.S. Central Command, Vice Admiral David Nichols, USN, traveled to Pakistan, a key ally in the war on terror, for meetings with the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence. Whatever apprehension he may have had regarding his ability to tackle critical issues vanished when he discovered that his Pakistani counterpart, Major General Muhammad Mustafa Khan, the Director General for Analysis and Foreign Relations, was a friend and fellow alumnus of a course on Transnational Security Cooperation held at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS) in 2001. The meeting turned into not only a reunion, but also an occasion to advance a mutually beneficial agenda. The enabler was a relaxed relationship of mutual trust and a transparent framework for collaborative dialogue developed in 1 week at APCSS. In this case and countless others, a shared learning experience played a key role in contributing to a special relationship, a common knowledge starting point, easily accessible teaming skills, and an expanded network of key security practitioners capable of working together to prevent or mitigate crises in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

Through its broad suite of innovative executive education, outreach, and research, the center--one of five Department of Defense (DOD) Regional Centers for Security Studies--has earned a reputation for facilitating broad-based multilateral security collaboration and executing DOD and U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) strategic policy objectives in the Asia-Pacific region. The APCSS operating philosophy is based on a rigorous process involving constant assessment, feedback, and consultation with regional leaders, both U.S. and foreign, which is the driving force behind the evolution of APCSS programs. This assessment-driven approach is helping forge an ever-expanding multilateral community of interagency, military, academic, and nongovernmental security influencers, all interactively connected by a network of networks, collaborating at all levels to solve the region's toughest security challenges.

Moreover, with an annual operating budget roughly equal to the cost of a single Apache helicopter or F-16 fighter, APCSS is helping to increase a uniquely important security capacity--that of leaders. Operating in direct support of the USPACOM Theater Security Cooperation Plan, the APCSS enables relationships with and among traditional allies and potential regional security partners who give DOD, as well as interagency constituents, unique returns on dollars invested. In the Asia-Pacific region, where relationships are foundational to all progress, those forged at APCSS are cost-effective, high-payoff enablers. As an investment for the long term, they work and they stick.

Short History, Big Impact

Contributing to the formation of APCSS was Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye's realization in the early 1990s that a DOD institution based in Hawaii, directly supporting U.S. Pacific Command, could play a significant role in educating security practitioners in the Asia-Pacific region. Senator Inouye introduced legislation to establish the center in 1994. Occupying temporary space at Camp Smith and the Waikiki Trade Center from 1995 to 2000, the center graduated its first executive course, which consisted of 23 fellows from 12 countries, in September 1996. Following a comprehensive facility refurbishment, APCSS moved to its permanent home at Fort DeRussy in June 2000. In its 12-year history, APCSS has graduated nearly 3,000 fellows from more than 50 countries; participated in 115 security-related conferences attended by roughly 7,000 security professionals from 70 countries; and partnered with academic institutions in 35 countries for conferences and research. In terms of sheer reach and ability to promote common security frameworks and stimulate regional collaboration, APCSS is playing a critical role in the broader effort to support the strategic security objectives of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and USPACOM in the Asia-Pacific region.

Strategic Imperatives

The comprehensive security environment of the Asia-Pacific region could not be more complex. It is characterized by traditional national sovereignty issues; longstanding territorial disputes; rogue states; the threat of pandemic outbreak; increasing competition for energy resources; and humanitarian crises resulting from terrorism, ethnic conflict, poor governance, widening socioeconomic gaps, and natural disasters. These regional challenges give APCSS some strategic imperatives to focus its mission of educating and developing leaders to advance strategic communications and security cooperation. As a DOD institution, APCSS is uniquely postured to support long-term and emergent policy objectives identified by OSD and USPACOM by expanding the analysis of the security dimensions addressed and leveraging innovative, nontraditional approaches. The key is the focus on Asia-Pacific 21st-century leader development.

APCSS continually strives to tailor courses and regional outreach events in direct support of emergent security policy priorities. To support the war on terror, APCSS developed its Comprehensive Security Responses to Terrorism course to foster a broader understanding of terrorism, from roots to means and effects, and to share perspectives on best approaches and related collaborative requirements, for dealing with terrorism. Since April 2004, 7 iterations of the course have built relationships among 336 fellows from 51 countries, the vast majority of whom are counterterrorism practitioners directly engaged in the war on terror. The center has also partnered with other regional organizations in executing 13 terrorism-focused conferences and numerous collaborative research projects, all designed to enhance regional capacity for combating terrorism, from addressing its root causes to developing multilateral response mechanisms.


Additionally, APCSS responded in November 2005 when the Secretary of Defense identified security, stability, transition, and reconstruction operations as a mission area of priority equal to traditional combat, a major policy decision reflected in DOD Directive 3000.05 and the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review. Realizing the implications for the Asia-Pacific region, APCSS immediately began to develop its Stability, Security, Transition, and Reconstruction course to prepare security practitioners from the public and private sectors to deal comprehensively with challenges across the stability-to-reconstruction spectrum. In August 2006, APCSS completed its first course iteration, graduating fellows representing military, constabulary, diplomatic, academic, and humanitarian professions spanning 17 Asia-Pacific nations. The 4-week course is now one of the most sought-after in the APCSS catalogue. Importantly, feedback from the region clearly indicates that alumni are leveraging the knowledge and relationships gained at the center to positive, practical effect.

APCSS and the other regional centers also stand to benefit from recent DOD strategic policy directives. For example, the DOD Information Sharing Strategy states:

It is imperative to effectively exchange information among components, Federal agencies, coalition partners, foreign governments, and international organizations as a critical element of our efforts to defend the Nation and execute national strategy.... The Strategy represents the first step in a comprehensive initiative to assess and modify as needed existing policies, business processes, budget allocations, and cultural perspectives. (1)


This type of policy change gives greater thrust to information-sharing and educational technology innovations already under way that will more effectively network alumni and other collaborative partners with APCSS and each other, providing greater capacity for strategic communication, predictive analysis, and crisis response.

A continuing cycle of assessment, adaptive planning, and execution ensures that APCSS satisfies DOD and USPACOM policy directives. Specifically, OSD guidance directs the APCSS and other regional centers to:

* build institutional and security capacity

* counter ideological support for terrorism

* harmonize views on common security challenges

* educate officials on the role of security in civil societies.

At the combatant command level, APCSS programs also complement and support USPACOM's effort to execute its regional strategy. The command's major focus areas are to:

* prosecute and win the war on terror

* advance regional security cooperation and engagement

* mature our joint and combined capabilities

* posture for agile and responsive employment

* ensure that operational plans at all levels are credible.


Because APCSS programs continue to contribute positively to all the above policy objectives, both directly and indirectly, OSD and USPACOM recognize and use APCSS as a unique enabler in the broader effort to execute DOD's security strategy in the region.

Participant-centered Education

As the cornerstone of the APCSS program suite, executive education arguably has had the greatest impact on building collaborative security capacity. Drawing military and civilian fellows working in various security-related sectors, both governmental and nongovernmental personnel from the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, the APCSS participant-centered learning approach and nonattribution academic environment promote in-depth examination and robust dialogue on existing and emerging security challenges common to all. An emphasis on transparency and mutual respect provides a proper foundation for relationship-building that sticks.

Attracting the right people to its courses continues to be a top priority for APCSS. The process begins with a rigorous assessment of the demographics, skill sets, and functional/ organizational affiliations desired for an upcoming course. The process continues with a close dialogue between the center's admissions branch and regional U.S. Embassies, which coordinate with appropriate host-nation government ministries or nongovernmental organizations to identify and vet prospects. Fellows sought are mid- to senior-level professionals who can best benefit from the knowledge and skills gained and the professional networks developed, and who are now or are likely to be in key positions of influence in their countries and able to work collaboratively with the United States and regional counterparts.

APCSS designs courses that allow maximum interaction between the fellows and faculty. Tailored academic lectures, guided seminar discussions, and special presentations by high-profile senior military officers and policymakers expose fellows to a diverse set of regional security perspectives. Fellows also benefit from the APCSS library, computer-training lab, and other key support staff. Finally, no less important than the academic program itself is a robust schedule of social activities, sports, and cultural events to allow fellows to build lasting relationships. Feedback from alumni demonstrates how these relationships have paid big dividends by enabling a more effective response to regional crises.


Built on the success of in-residence education, APCSS outreach events are most often hands-on workshops intent on building practical capacity to address key security issues. Outreach events do not just happen; they begin with a specific need identified by U.S. and foreign leaders in the region, most often in face-to-face consultation with APCSS executive leadership. Outreach events can specifically address the security needs of a particular country or focus more broadly on multilateral approaches to common security concerns. Whatever the requirement, outreach events are meticulously designed and executed to generate constructive dialogue among security practitioners, policymakers, political leaders, nongovernmental and international organizations, regional think tanks, educators, and other interested parties. The intent of outreach is to produce actionable outputs, often in the form of forward-thinking recommendations to key senior government officials. The APCSS key value-added role is to facilitate participants' generation of ideas and to record the results. The participants themselves develop the deliverables needed to achieve intended next-step outcomes. Furthermore, the importance of APCSS outreach is expanding, as each event further enables security collaboration, bringing together participants from organizations that may well have little to no interaction otherwise.

This outreach model has yielded significant results, most recently in Cambodia and Nepal. In Cambodia, APCSS conducted an outreach event in February and March 2007 entitled "Managing Porous Borders in Southeast Asia." Attended by representatives from several countries in Southeast Asia as well as Australia, Canada, the United States, and various nongovernmental organizations, the event fostered an improved understanding of perspectives on border-control challenges and identified the next steps required to enhance regional border security collaboration.

In Nepal, the success of the APCSS initial outreach event--which facilitated a joint government, military, police, major political party security-sector reform analysis conducted in September 2006--resulted in a followup requirement generated by the U.S. Ambassador to Nepal for a second five-workshop series addressing "Democratic Transitions and Civil-Military Relations." In May 2007, APCSS and the Naval Postgraduate School's Center for Civil-Military Relations partnered with the Nepal-based South Asia Center for Policy Studies to conduct the first event of the series, which focused on "democratic control of the security forces." The event culminated with a briefing to Nepal's speaker of parliament, by Nepali participants, on recommended next steps for specific security sector reform. The final report will inform government ministries, political parties, security forces, and nongovernmental influencers on these outcomes.

In the wake of recent successful outreach events in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Japan, Nepal, and Pakistan, APCSS continues to receive requests for additional support from various U.S. and regional organizations. This mission area is likely to expand and, with appropriate resources, will continue to yield huge dividends in building regional security capacity.

Keeping Connected

Maintaining and leveraging the collaborative relationships and regional security expertise forged during courses and outreach are top priorities for APCSS. It accomplishes these tasks in a number of innovative ways. First, during in-resident courses, APCSS invites fellows to join a community of interest supported by the Asia-Pacific Collaborative Security Consortium (APCSC), a virtual network of five Hawaii-based, DOD-funded organizations (APCSS included) with a common interest in sharing enabling information to enhance regional security and stability. The faculty uses the APCSC portal to exchange course-related information with fellows, a practice that socializes future alumni to the practical benefits of continued on-line collaboration after they return to their countries. The intent is for APCSC, or its next-generation replacement, to function as a focal point for information-sharing during a regional crisis or as a key information tool supporting collaboration on longer-term regional security projects.

APCSS also strives to keep alumni connected through monthly electronic newsletters and its semiannual Currents magazine, both providing the latest information on alumni accomplishments, promotions, position changes, or involvement in activities of interest to a security community of influence. An alumni network portal is yet another way that APCSS graduates and other affiliates stay in touch with each other, the center, and the APCSC.

Finally, as a testament to the impact that APCSS programs have made on alumni, alumni associations have formed in 17 countries, with several more pending. APCSS executive leadership and faculty routinely engage alumni associations during regional travel to provide updates, seek feedback on programs, and reinforce relationships. Given the positions of influence that many APCSS alumni hold, the associations are valued partners and critical enablers within the broader community of influence dedicated to improving regional security. Through their respective associations, alumni are leveraging the knowledge and relationships gained at APCSS to effect positive change in their own countries and throughout the region.


At APCSS, a focused transformation continues, with a comprehensive and continuous assessment driving the overall effort. The most exciting changes are those under way in the areas of education and supporting information technology. APCSS is currently upgrading its academic facilities with the latest in wireless technology, electronic smart boards, virtual collaboration and learning portals, and Web-based capabilities for continuing education. Additionally, APCSS is already looking at ways to promote and employ the Regional International Outreach (RIO) enterprise system, currently in development by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, to connect APCSS with other U.S. Regional Centers for Security Studies and their alumni. Not only is RIO expected to enhance APCSS educational programs and enable continued alumni contact, but it will also give networked security practitioners a way to respond to regional crises more proactively and collaboratively.

In the near future, APCSS will launch a new Trends Analysis Center (TAC), an initiative to harness, both physically and virtually, the analytical capabilities of its faculty, scientists from the Pacific Disaster Center, nongovernmental organization coordination experts at the Center of Excellence for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief, and other agencies. Resulting from a recent in-depth study that explored optimizing collaborative relationships among key Hawaii-based agencies, the APCSS TAC will offer a better understanding of how select trends not traditionally associated with defense impact the broader regional security environment. By examining and reporting on socioeconomic, demographic, environmental, resource, health, and other trends that could lead to strategic shock events, the TAC will seek to fill existing analytical gaps. Not only will resulting products contribute to APCSS courses and outreach events, but they will also provide vital information to help USPACOM and other regional security partners mitigate security threats or respond effectively to crises should they occur.

Finally, APCSS is seeking to expand academic partnerships with counterpart institutions around the region. Through sharing ideas about best practices related to learning models, exchanging subject matter expertise, collaborating on research, and writing joint publications, the APCSS team can better shape opportunities and lay the foundation for enhanced academic interaction and state-of-the-art leader development. By these means, more Asia-Pacific security practitioners and key influencers will benefit in individual and partnered attempts to resolve conflict and identify solutions to common security problems.

The mission of the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies and the other regional centers is more vital to securing U.S. interests than ever before. At a relatively low cost, the center's programs are developing regional leaders who are networked and capable of working with the United States and other partners to build multilateral security capacity that is effective and lasting. To that end, the center continually strives to be forward-focused, influential in the near and long term, respected, connected, and team-oriented. The net result of its unique value-added effort is an Asia-Pacific region increasingly capable of dealing more effectively with strategic security challenges through established networks and collaborative mechanisms. JFQ



(1) Department of Defense, Information Sharing Strategy (Washington, DC: Department of Defense, May 4, 2007), ii.

Major Bryan D. Greenstein, USAF, is Deputy for Strategic Communication, Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies.
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Author:Greenstein, Bryan D.
Publication:Joint Force Quarterly
Geographic Code:0PACR
Date:Dec 1, 2007
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